the best day of your life

“Do not seek to bring things to pass in accordance with your wishes, but wish for them as they are, and you will find them.”



“Saying the mantra is like watching the bag dancing in the wind in American Beauty.”

Via Transformativa

Playa de las ConchasHow will you know when it’s the best day of your life?

Well, of course, you won’t. It will have passed before you know it. And anyway – no matter how fantastic this day is turning out to be who’s to say tomorrow won’t be even better?

In the movie ‘About Time’ Tim discovers that, like his father, he can travel in time and change what happens in his own life. Desperate for a girlfriend he is able to re-engineer social situations to his advantage. Result. As the novelty wears off he uses his ‘skip backwards’ trick to relive ordinary days to find the gold in the lead.

So although playing the game of ‘spot the best day of your life’ can be fun it can’t be won but it does help us focus on fully appreciating the present experience not becoming lost to the moment in some anticipated future or fondly remembered past.

We can take this a step further. Because the perfect day will elude us in its passing we can always live this present day as if it was the perfect day. And in a profound way it is. In the grand order of things the cosmos is in its perfect stage of inflation, our galaxy is in a perfect spin rotating once every 226 million years and the sun comes up on the frostiest of mornings. More prosaically, the traffic on the ring road is exactly as busy as it is and you will get to the station just in time to catch (or miss) your train.

With so much finely tuned for benevolence it seems churlish to accuse the garden of Life of serving you a lemon. Learn to like lemons. Who is the sage that said “happiness consists in wanting what you’ve got”?

This is not a manifesto for passive acquiescence in the face of unacceptable injustice. It is, however, a manifesto based on the intuitive understanding that you and Life are not separate … or that Life is ‘being done’ to you. You are Life unfolding.

“The truth is I now don’t travel back at all, not even for the day. I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.” Tim in About Time.


what time is now?

“All time is contained in the present Now-moment.”
Meister Eckhart


“Saying the mantra is like dismantling a wall that separates your true Self from union with God … each syllable a brick … each word a course.”

Via Integrativa

m_Time20And20A20Word_01Today the clocks go back – so don’t forget to correct yours. The clock on my wall is perfectly correct twice a day. That’s because it’s stopped. My clock is a record player deck with a vinyl album on it and three hands – hours, minutes, seconds. The album (chosen by me) is ‘Time And A Word’ by Yes not because its my favourite album (it isn’t) but because I nicked the title for the lyrics to one of my songs.

Jesus did not own a record player but he was splayed on a wooden deck his arms and legs stretched out to embrace and integrate the agony of now-in-the-body with the bliss of eternity-in-I-Amness.

He said some pretty strange things in relation to time: “Before Abraham was … I Am.” (John 8:58) This little aside was enough to get him stoned for blasphemy. And when one of the criminals alongside him asked a favour “remember me when you come into your kingdom” Jesus replied “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Was Jesus a Time Lord like Dr Who?

His take on time seemed to be that the eternal kingdom is here, is now. For it is not a place it is a state. “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21) As Einstein says “the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

It is only when we calibrate time on external reference points that eternity loses its immediacy. “Time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once” puns Woody Allen paraphrasing science fiction writer Ray Cummings which is why, on a day like today, we put our clocks back so we can all experience each other in the same time zone – the time is always now.


presence and absence

“In the silent darkness we are given new eyes. In the heart of the divine we can see more clearly who we are.”

Macrina Wiederkehr


“Saying the mantra is like dismantling a wall that separates your true Self from union with God … each syllable a brick … each word a course.”

Via Negativa

two faces and a vaseIn his book of essays, ‘Working the Room’, Geoff Dyer suggests we reflect not only on the positive things that shaped our lives but also on the negative things that did not happen – those events that did not register on our internal seismograph.

In his case, narrowly avoiding being written off by an American truck when he was driving too tired at night on the wrong side of the road. In my case, the job offer I turned down in High Point, North Carolina  when I was on tour with the band. And others.

Seeing our life in relief – the positive and the negative, like a brass rubbing – brings a sense of relief. And gratitude. Gratitude for the good things we care to remember and gratitude for the bad things that could have happened but didn’t.

The path to the awakened life is not one of addition – adding missing knowledge or perfected practice to who you are already. Rather, it is a path of subtraction – letting go of ideas you have accrued. It is a state of remembering who you already are – your true nature.

At the end of González Iñárritu’s film ‘Amores Perros’ – a meditation on death – if you stay long enough and read the credits before the house lights go up you will see an unattributed quote: “Porque también somos lo que hemos perdido.” Because we are also what we have lost.



“The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.”

Meister Eckhart


“Saying the mantra is like dismantling a wall that separates your true Self from union with God … each syllable a brick … each word a course.”

Via Positiva

eyeEinstein was a realist. As he said, “I like to think that the moon is there even if I am not looking at it”. Does the full moon shine in the forest if there is no-one to witness it?

Not if your name’s Deepak Chopra. He is not a realist he is an an idealist in scientific terms when talking about consciousness i.e. it takes an observer for anything to be ‘real’. This stems as much from his deep understanding of quantum physics as much as his deeply Indian influenced advaita – non-duality – philosophy.

In the recent Science & Non-duality Conference he delivers a very clear presentation on what science can tell us about the nature of the universe and the nature of consciousness … almost nothing. He makes the observation that our scientific observations reveal that 70% of the universe is dark energy leading to the expansion of the universe, the edge of which is apparently unknowable at 47 billion light years away, 26% is dark matter which glues it together both of which cannot be observed. Of the remaining observable 4% almost 99% is made up of hydrogen and helium (invisible to human observation) and the 1% of 4%, or less than 0.01% of the (un)known universe, is made of ‘stuff’ – atoms in galaxies, stars, planets and bones.

The most powerful MRI scanner exploring the “nooks and crannies of our neural networks” has not yet located consciousness. Deepak’s conclusion is that we know very little about what makes up the universe and what makes up consciousness. Either consciousness is, as Daniel Dennett argues, an illusion of a biological robot or a priori the ground of our Being … ”die Grunde’ as Meister Eckhart refers to it.

“There is existence and there is awareness of existence.”

Enquire into this your self and see what you find – who is the observer?



“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

Meister Eckhart


“Saying the mantra is like a free floating space walk daisy-chaining with atoms, saints and galaxies.”

Via Positiva

gravityIn ‘Gravity’ at her lowest ebb high above the earth Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) gives up on life and turns off the oxygen supply in her space capsule.

As her thoughts turn to her imminent death she murmurs to herself “No-one taught me how to pray.” Without spoiling the ending, when she crawls out of the lake (like a creature re-born) she murmurs to herself “Thank you.” She taught herself how to pray.

At the end of ‘American Beauty’, Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) – who has just lost his life after finding it – says “I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me … but it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst … And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life … You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry … you will someday.”

The strap line to ‘Gravity’ is ‘Don’t let go’. It should be ‘Let go’. As George Clooney as Matt Kowalski says as he floats off, “You’re gonna have to learn to let go.”

An attitude of gratitude is the daily mantra of the secular monk in all of us. We are priests to ourselves in our own lives.


much ado about nothing

“Outside of God there is nothing but nothing.”

Meister Eckhart


“Meditation is like fly fishing without a fly expecting to catch nothing … expecting nothing … standing in the Source.”

Via Negativa

nothingIt was only in the 5th century that ‘zero’ was introduced to mathematics and philosophy and it set a cat amongst the pigeons. Before then there was no nothing. The church even banned any talk of ‘zero’. It seemed to negate everything that God had created and everything that was ‘good’.

The oldest known text to use a decimal place-value system, including a zero, is the Jain text from India entitled the Lokavibhâga, dated 458 AD, where shunya (“void” or “empty”) was employed for this purpose.

The rules governing the use of zero appeared for the first time in Brahmagupta’s book Brahmasputha Siddhanta (The Opening of the Universe), written in 628 AD. Here Brahmagupta considers not only zero, but negative numbers, and the algebraic rules for the elementary operations of arithmetic with such numbers. Here are the rules of Brahmagupta:

  • The sum of zero and a negative number is negative.
  • The sum of zero and a positive number is positive.
  • The sum of zero and zero is zero.
  • The sum of a positive and a negative is their difference; or, if their absolute values are equal, zero.
  • A positive or negative number when divided by zero is a fraction with the zero as denominator.
  • Zero divided by a negative or positive number is either zero or is expressed as a fraction with zero as numerator and the finite quantity as denominator.
  • Zero divided by zero is zero.

In saying zero divided by zero is zero, Brahmagupta differs from the modern position. Mathematicians normally do not assign a value to this, whereas computers and calculators sometimes assign NaN, which means “not a number.” Try it now on a calculator or your phone – on my iPhone I get “ERROR”. On my Mac I get ‘Not a Number’. I like NaN … its also a palindrome – nothing is the same backwards as forwards.

But without nothing, or rather what we’ve long taken to be nothing – we’d be nowhere. For centuries, scientists have known that it may be the key to understanding everything from why particles have mass to the expansion of the universe. The start – and end – of the universe, dark energy, superconductivity, consciousness – all these scientific issues are players in the drama surrounding nothing. These ideas about nothing are explored in the New Scientist book aptly titled … ‘Nothing‘.

So, don’t avoid doing nothing or thinking about nothing … it is the seed of everything.

Watch this animation from New Scientist explaining why there is no such thing as nothing.


Gardeners Question Time

“What we are looking for is what is looking.”

St Francis of Assisi


“Saying the mantra is like reaching hand over hand for the rungs of a monkey ladder over a gorge.”

Via Integrativa


One of the great railway journeys in England is the Settle to Carlisle line renowned for the viaduct across the Ribblesdale Valley. I travelled it for the first time as a guest in the Green Room of a specially chartered Gardeners Question Time train being recorded for BBC Radio 4.

As we approached the viaduct no matter how we strained to look out of the carriage windows we could not see the beautiful arches of the viaduct … because, of course, we were on it. It took question master Eric Robson to announce “we are now crossing over Ribblesdale viaduct.” You could also see the whitewashed cottage where Michael Faraday was born.

It reminded me of my favourite John Davies photo of Stockport viaduct (unfortunately stolen … from me not by me) which looks like an Escher illusion as the factory disappears into the arches. It also reminded me of St Francis’ saying “What we are looking for is what is looking.” John-Davies-StockportViaduct

Just as you cannot see your own eye, you cannot see that which you are seeking in awakening – it looks upon itself as That.



“Cast the net on the right side of the boat.”
Jesus, John 21v6


“Meditation is like fly fishing without a fly expecting to catch nothing … expecting nothing … standing in The Source.”

Via Creativa

20061130_antikytheraIn 1901, a group of divers excavating an ancient Roman shipwreck near the island of Antikythera, off the southern coast of Greece, found a mysterious object – a lump of calcified stone that contained within it several gearwheels welded together after years under the sea. The 2,000-year-old object, no bigger than a modern laptop, is now regarded as the world’s oldest computer, devised to predict solar eclipses and, according to recent findings, calculate the timing of the ancient Olympics.

One of the gears has 153 teeth – a prime number – and was used to predict eclipses. Several working models of the Antikythera Mechanism have been made and accurately predict lunar and solar eclipses – although we do not need it to predict the date of the next Olympics any more.

Jesus predicted an unusual event – a large catch of 153 fish on the right side of the boat – when the disciples caught none on the left side. A prime catch. When it seems as though your nets are empty try letting go of proven methods and allow yourself to be caught up in the abundance of  The Prime Mover.

There is a Radio4 snippet here –


how long is now

“This is the fullness of time – when the Son of God is begotten in you.”
Meister Eckhart


“Saying the mantra is like a Mexican wave of prayer from Christian monks in desert monasteries to Tibetan lamas in mountain monasteries from age to age.”

Via Creativa

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

ClockAllWht1_00BFI-230pxOne of the metaphysical conundrums which we don’t need to feign interest in here. Although, modern quantum physics does suggest that it is only when ‘reality’ is perceived by an observer and the wave function collapses that anything ‘real’ can be said to exist at all.

If a clock chimes in the heart of a mountain and plays a different tune every day for 10,000 years but no-one is around to hear it does time pass? And this is not purely metaphysical conjecture to exercise the minds of budding monks. It is a real project in Texas created by The Long Now Foundation which includes amongst its founders the polymath composer, artist, and app developer Brian Eno – he of Roxy Music fame and author of ‘A Year With Swollen Appendices” which is wonderfully eclectic.

“It is a huge Clock, hundreds of feet tall, designed to tick for 10,000 years. Every once in a while the bells of this buried Clock play a melody. Each time the chimes ring, it’s a melody the Clock has never played before. The Clock’s chimes have been programmed to not repeat themselves for 10,000 years. Most times the Clock rings when a visitor has wound it, but occasionally it will ring itself when no one is around to hear it. It’s anyone’s guess how many beautiful songs will never be heard over the Clock’s 10 millennial lifespan.” The Long Now Foundation

The creative spark behind the project was Brian Eno’s observation when he lived in New York that everyone seems to be living in ‘the short now’ – busying themselves with today’s or this week’s projects. “What about the project of your year or your life?” he mused … and wondered what living in the long now might be like.

I like my home-spun philosophy on time – if there is such a thing as eternity … then we’re in it now. And if we’re in eternity now then time, as such, is an illusion. That’s the long and the short of it … choose how long is now.

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”

William Blake


Life of Pi

“Spirituality is not to be learned by flight from the world, by running away from things, or by turning solitary and going apart from the world. Rather, we must learn an inner solitude wherever or with whomsoever we may be. We must learn to penetrate things and find God there.”
Meister Eckhart


“Saying the mantra is like reciting the genetic code of God.”

Via Integrativa

Life of Pi

If you don’t know which God to believe in (if any) then do what Piscine does in The Life of Pi – believe in them all. Bob Hope was asked why he does benefit gigs for all religions. “Why risk the afterlife on a technicality”, he quipped.

Joseph Campbell who developed the idea of the universal ‘monomyth’ in his seminal book ‘The Power of Myth’ held that numerous myths from disparate times and regions share fundamental structures and stages, which he summarized in The Hero with a Thousand Faces:

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won:

The formula works for every hero’s story from Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ to Simon Beaufoy’s ‘Full Monty’. In essence, there are three stages of the journey – the call/departure, initiation/crisis and the return/victory. Works for all religions and all vocations … try it for your own life and journey.

In the case of Pi he is confronted by Richard Parker – a tiger in the boat. For me, this represents a mirror of our deepest fears – in this case of being eaten. We all have our fears which co-habit the same boat we’re in. Like Pi the only way through is to embrace them and make them our friend. Grrrr ….

Pi says to the Canadian novel writer who comes to hear his story, “my story will make you believe in God.” Our own story is to make us believers. That’s why we can be grateful for the perils as well as the thrills of the journey we experience as Life.

“(the monomyth is) the one, shape-shifting yet marvelously constant story that we find, together with the challengingly persistent suggestion of more remaining to be experienced than will ever be known or told.”
Joseph Campbell